Elon Musk's SpaceX launches first spy satellite for US military

27 December, 2018, 01:32 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • 9 rocket scheduled to launch a U.S. Air Force navigation satellite sits on Launch Complex 40 after the launch was postponed after an abort procedure was triggered by the onboard flight computer at Cape Canaveral

The Falcon 9 rocket launcher carried an approximately $500 million Global Positioning System satellite (developed by Lockheed Martin Corp) at roughly 8:51 am (1351 GMT).

Billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX is scheduled on Saturday to launch a long-delayed USA military navigation satellite, which if successful would mark the rocket company's first national security space mission for the United States.

This cargo is the first of the 32 satellites, constructed by Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force's GPS III programme. However, Elon Musk's commercial space flight company successfully completed its first mission for the U.S. military on Sunday. This time, however, SpaceX won't attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage after the launch, the company said in its press kit, citing mission requirements.

The dispatch was initially booked for 2014 however has been limped by generation delays, the Air Force said.


The satellite was deployed to its intended orbit approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes after liftoff. It completed Falcon 9's third launch and landing this year. "By this time next year, we expect to also have a second GPS III on orbit and users should be receiving signals from this first satellite". The satellite provides improved services and longer lifetimes. GPS III's new L1C civil signal will also make it the first GPS satellite broadcasting a compatible signal with other worldwide global navigation satellite systems, like Europe's Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.

But it'll be a while before Vespucci, which was built by aerospace company Lockheed Martin, is fully up and running. GPS IIIF builds off Lockheed Martin's existing modular GPS III, which was created to evolve with new technology and changing mission needs.

It is the first in a series, nicknamed Vespucci after the 15th-century Italian explorer who calculated Earth's circumference to within 80 kilometres. Four previous scheduled launches in the last week, including one on Saturday, were canceled due to weather and technical issues.

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